There are a lot of iconic brands in the music products industry—names that, even for non-players, are deeply embedded in popular culture and our collective consciousness—but very few have reached the legendary status that Zildjian has attained. Avedis Zildjian founded the Avedis Zildjian Company, now headquartered in Norwell MA, in Constantinople in 1623, making the renowned cymbal manufacturer 392 years old. Under the present-day leadership of Craigie Zildjian, CEO, the company continues to enjoy a leadership position in the highly competitive cymbal and drum accessory categories. Simply being one of the world’s oldest companies, however, is not enough to continue to propel Zildjian to success; it must also deliver new products commensurate with the family name’s considerable cachet. And that is where the Low Volume Cymbal series—in particular, the new L80 Low Volume Cymbal—takes center stage.
“We take great pride in listening to drummers’ feedback on our products and their overall cymbal needs,” explained Zildjian’s Gen16 Product Manager, Mike Sutton, to whom The Retailer recently spoke. The idea for the L80 Low Volume Cymbal came from numerous requests from consumers, dealers and artists, centered on the Gen16 Buffed Bronze Cymbals. “We learned about the limitations that drummers who live in urban or densely populated areas experience when trying to find time to work out ideas or practice, due to their concerns about noise levels,” Sutton commented. “We knew we were on to something that resonated with drummers, so we worked on making a quieter and more accessible version.” It was an auspicious idea.
The process of experimenting with different alloys, finishes, sizes and other manufacturing processes took a couple of months. The guiding vision, however, was abundantly clear: The designers sought to create a low-volume solution that would enable drummers to play longer, without having to worry about disturbing their family or neighbors. “During the development process,” Sutton began, “we found that we could open the product to educators, as well.” He cited the additional benefits of reduced SPLs, especially relative to the ear fatigue that can occur when teaching for long periods. “We spent a good deal of time finding the ideal alloy that sounds and feels like a Zildjian cymbal,” he continued, adding that, although the product had to reduce volume levels, it also had to tie into Zildjian’s rich cymbal heritage and meet discerning drummers’ high standards.
Zildjian’s L80 Low Volume Cymbal fills a void in the marketplace, Sutton said, especially for drummers who want to dampen their volume without diminishing the “feel” of playing. “Prior to this,” he explained, “many drummers would use muffling devices, such as T-shirts, towels, pads and many other things, to dampen the volume of their cymbals.” He continued, “Although those devices do work, they remove all the natural feel of playing a cymbal.” The Low Volume Cymbal series, by contrast, boasts all the authentic feeling of a Zildjian cymbal, even while ensuring that drummers can play freely in volume-restricted settings.
To deliver a product that’s up to 80-percent quieter than a traditional cymbal, the Zildjian Sound Lab team settled on a specialized pattern that achieved both musical sound and lower volume. “The real secret to, or ‘mojo’ of, the L80 Low Volume Cymbal’s ability to bring the elements of sound and feel at such a reduced volume level is the combination of hole pattern, alloy and finish,” Sutton revealed. “The specialized hole pattern reduces the mass of the cymbal, while retaining cymbal sounding properties.” He continued, “Then, the new alloy takes it a step further by bringing a darker timbre into the mix.” The finishing touch is the matte finish, which reduces the high frequencies and contributes to the L80 Low Volume Cymbal’s drier sound.
The Low Volume Cymbal series, which sports the new L80 logo that’s based on the Kerope “K” font, is available in a number of box sets that combine different sized hi-hats, crashes and a crash ride. The box set model numbers indicate the quantity of cymbals and their respective sizes. “For example,” Sutton began, “the LV38 box set is made up of a 13-inch hi-hat and 18-inch crash ride.” He continued, “The LV348 box set includes a 14-inch crash, so it’s got a 13-inch hi-hat, 14-inch crash and 18-inch crash ride. The top-tier LV468 box set gets a larger hi-hat and crash, which makes the configuration a 14-inch hi-hat, 16-inch crash and 18-inch crash ride.” MAP for the box sets is $199.95, $249.95 and $299.95, respectively.
Given that every drummer—from those just starting with the instrument straight through to seasoned professionals—can benefit from being able to play without worrying about volume, the L80 Low Volume Cymbal is particularly attractive for retailers who carry percussion gear. “We feel this is a very unique story to tell within our marketing strategy,” Sutton affirmed. “We’re targeting parents who may be skeptical about purchasing a drum kit for their children, owing to concerns about noise levels. We’re also marketing these cymbals to more experienced drummers, who can use the Low Volume Cymbal series in their practice spaces or even bring them on the road and use them while warming up before a gig.” Zildjian also sees potential within educational spaces, houses of worship and myriad other locations that, potentially, could benefit from a lower-volume option.
The L80 Low Volume Cymbal—as represented in the LV38, LV348 and LV468 box sets—is currently available. “We’re encouraging all our retailer partners to set up a demo kit on the retail floor,” Sutton said. “That will enable customers to experience our Low Volume Cymbal series. They can hear and feel the difference.”
With the holidays only a couple months away, they’re an item that could make a drummer’s Christmas very merry, indeed.